Since 2011, EARTH University and the Mastercard Foundation (MCF) have partnered to provide educational opportunity to young leaders whose academic talent and promise exceed their financial resources, to support them in transforming the future of developing regions, particularly Africa. More than 130 MCF Scholars have graduated from EARTH after an intensive, experiential 4-year program in agriculture and natural resources management, and the vast majority of these Scholars has returned to their countries and communities to lead social, environmental and economic transformation back home.
However, many educated and high-potential youth lack the skills, knowledge, and networks to activate their entrepreneurial ideas and/or transition to the world of work to create impact in their families, communities, and countries. Young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds can face challenges because of limited personal or social capital, and young women and displaced youth in particular face additional disadvantages. EARTH and MCF recognize that these challenges faced by returning MCF Scholar graduates are significant. With this in mind, in 2020 the two organizations will launch the new EARTH-MCF Graduate Fellowship, a program of competitive, remunerated post-graduate fellowships for EARTH and MCF Scholar alumni focused on agriculture and rural development. The Fellowship Program will support professional development and entrance to employment and entrepreneurship that will accelerate Scholars’ impact on the continent.
As part of the Fellowship, EARTH will provide transition pathways to employment and entrepreneurship through one-year placements in select African countries across four tracks:
- The Agricultural Employment Track provides opportunities for graduates to establish a foothold into careers in the future of agriculture and food systems, through placements with partner institutions in the private, public or social sectors.
- The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Track provides support to graduates in launching their own market-based endeavors focused on innovative solutions to challenges in agriculture and rural development.
- The Agricultural Education Track provides opportunities, including teaching, with secondary education and technical, vocational, education and training (TVET) institutions in Africa to support the expansion of innovation and best practices in agricultural education.
- The Agricultural Innovation through Science and Research Track will place graduates interested in careers in agricultural research in national and international research organizations, universities and other institutions.
During one-year placement opportunities beginning in January each year, Fellows will receive a modest monthly stipend in addition to mentoring and other services to support their career development and impact potential. EARTH will also organize periodic convenings among Fellows in Africa as spaces for peer-to-peer learning and continuing education. For the first 3 years, only recent EARTH graduates will be eligible to apply; following this initial period, the program will be open to all recent alumni of the MCF Scholars Program network. The Fellowship program will facilitate and accelerate transitions for 140 Scholars over the next 8 years to realize their potential and exercise their abilities as catalytic change leaders in and for Africa. The Fellowship Program will play an important role in establishing best practices and contribute to evidence building that informs the creation of viable pathways to transition from school to work.
Beginning in August 2019, EARTH will be recruiting the Fellowship management team and will actively be seeking partnerships for placements, mentoring, expert-led webinars and operational logistics in Africa. To learn more about the program and explore these partnership opportunities, please contact us at Fellowship@earth.ac.cr.